Monday, March 28, 2011

What to do When You Run out of FOOD...? Use MAGIC!!

My mother could work magic, I swear. I can barely remember a time when our fridge didn't look as empty as the one pictured above.  The only time her fridge looked full was after all of us kids moved out!!

BUT, when I was a kid I'd come home everyday and ask the same question - "ma, what can I eat?" And her answer would invariably be - "nothing, we'll be eating supper in an hour!" Curses!! 

Luckily for me, my ma - a writer AND a food magician, would usually be holed up in the living room with the door closed and the constant clacking of the typewriter would cover any sounds I might make as I foraged through the cupboards looking for something...anything...that would make a good snack.

My siblings and I had to get pretty creative when it came to snacks. My mother wasn't one to spend money on "extras" like cookies or potato chips. She had to make do with about $80.00 per week - not just for food but for EVERYTHING - mortgage payment, utilities, insurance, food - EVERYTHING!! I remember the counting ritual that took place in the kitchen every Friday. My dad would bring home his pay packet at lunchtime and count 5 twenty dollar bills into my mother's hand. Then, without fail, she would count 1 twenty back into his hand. That was for him to spend on what he needed - gas for the car, seeds for the garden, feed for the chickens and maybe an ice cream bar for us kids during our regular Sunday drive.

So what did we eat for snacks? Well, we'd get into the raisins or dates if there were any.  Crunchy homemade dill pickles seemingly as big as my arm - yum! and I've enjoyed many a raw potato with some salt sprinkled on it. There were usually apples around if we were desperate but my all-time favourite snack was smushing butter, brown sugar and cinnamon on a couple of slices of bread and putting them into the toaster til the sugar was all bubbling hot!! 

AND the piece de resistance was those old stovetop cookies that my brother and I used to make on those rare Sunday mornings when my parents slept in. Cocoa, coconut, rolled oats, white sugar, butter - the perfect Sunday morning breakfast. So we wouldn't get caught we'd take the whole pot and a couple of spoons down to the basement and watch TV while we got high on sugar!

Meanwhile, back at the typewriter, my mother continues to clack out another story for the next issue of that old kid's magazine "Jack and Jill." I look in the fridge and see nothing that would constitute "supper". I look in the oven - nothing.  I sniff the air but can detect no cooking smells. What the heck are we going to have for supper?  Not too worried, I take my dill pickle, my apple and a handful of raisins up to my room and pick up whatever book I'm reading - either one of the "Little House on the Prairie" series, the latest Reader's Digest or an Edgar Allan Poe story, honestly I'd read anything, and snack away.

Lost in my story ma would have to call me two or three times before I'd make my way to the supper table.  I'd ask the usual question - "can I read at the table?" and get the usual answer - "no".  I'd put down my book and sit down to a supper complete with dessert. Somehow, in the space of time between arriving home from school and getting called to the table my mother would "magically" make supper "appear".  Although a short while before I had scoured our seemingly bare fridge and cupboards for food my ma had whipped together a meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, half a loaf of bread AND tapioca pudding with sliced bananas for dessert - we always had dessert. (AND I WAS SKINNY AS A RAIL - GO FIGURE!!) 

I I was a totally self-absorbed child I never found out what her secrets were. Honestly I was just used to it. Day after day, month after month, year after year - there was always supper on the table by the time by dad got home from work - 6pm sharp!

Since I never learned to do "food magic", now when I start to see past the initial layer in the fridge and the cupboard I start to panic and my "Little House on the Prairie" pioneer instincts kick in.  If I let the pile of turnips get too low we could starve before the spring thaw ya know...and when you're a pioneer you just can't run down to the local grocery store!!

Well thankfully in today's world I can run to the local Real Canadian Superstore and so today I did just that. I've already overspent on groceries this month but when I start to get a little panicky I have to stock up. I'm sure we wouldn't have died if I had waited til payday (Thurs) to shop but there it is, it's just the way I'm built. We had no salad - well ya gotta have salad! We were almost out of bread, not quite but almost!! And there were no more bags of milk - can't eat cereal (our family staple) without milk!!  However, in the interests of my budget I used $40.00 worth of my Presidents Choice points so my little shopping trip only cost me $9.00 and change. 

Seeing as how I bought two bags of salad, zucchini, green pepper, bananas, blueberries, bread, two kinds of bagels, milk, grapes, two tubes of toothpaste, ibuprofin, body wash, and a few other odds and sods all for less than $10.00 I guess I CAN work a little food magic of my own after all!!


  1. Your mom sounds like an amazing woman! :) Our cupboards & freezer are overabundant! When I was a kid ours were always bare too, but there was always food on the table for dinner thankfully!

    Reminds me, I should check our PC points! :)

  2. I think my kids and husband think the same thing about our house, there is nothing to eat. Until I am in the kitchen for about 30 minutes. One of the perks of not having ready made junk food laying around, it doesn't get devoured and than everyone is still hungry ten minutes later. Waste of money and calories, except ice cream that doesn't count. I guess we all have our vices.

  3. Jane, you made what I call frogs! Yummy! ( I have no idea why there called frogs but I can taste them now! I may have to make some this week-end or next.)

  4. I have never worked magic in the kitchen. Sad but true but in other rooms a goddess. You should see what I can do with Laundry!
    And I used to read Jack and Jill, that is awesome. I feel like I know someone famous!

  5. We called those cookies always made them

  6. I love that every reader remembers those cookies and has a different name for them! They were 'unbaked' cookies in my house and I still make them today. Although now hubby calls them chocolate macaroons.

  7. Hi Sis: Maybe after seeing an empty refridge for years that's why mine is always over flowing..cupboards are bulging too..I tend to really "overstock" forgot to mention we got yelled at if we had company and the fridge door was opened wide enough for anyone to see how empty it was. Mom also had stables like flour, powdered milk, rice, and good old chickens dad kept..we had a lot of vanilla pudding..milk, dap of butter, vanilla and thickened with flour..good old Lannie

  8. What a great story about your mom. It's amazing the stuff we get accustomed to and take for granted when we're kids. I remember wondering why I didn't have the ability to do all the fun stuff and volunteering I did in high school once I moved away to university. Finally it dawned on me that I had to grocery shop, pay bills, cook meals, clean more, etc. All stuff my mom fit into her day seamlessly. I just hope I can be as good at it as she was when my turn to be a mom comes around!

    Way to work that food magic by the way-I gotta get me some PC points!

  9. This is a great story. So funny how the little quirks of how we were raised have such an effect on us as adults.

    I actually get a great sense of pride when my cabinets go empty at the end of the week because I know nothing went to waste. But then again, I grew up surrounded by too many snacks.

  10. Lanniedee - my mom did that with her fridge. she and my dad both grew up (different towns though) with barely anything on the table and after they married we had the fridge and pantry overstuffed and meat in the freezer. Unfortunately I've copied my mom and I say 'unfortunately' because it's just me here LOL! not 4 people like we had in our family.

    I think I've taken after my mom in some of my cooking though - she'd go to the pantry/freezer/fridge and pick from her 'basics'(and basics weren't flour, eggs, milk for us but cream of this soup, velveeta, etc - convenience stuff!) though we did have some homemade stuff fairly often. But I like to go to the freezer or pantry and see what I have and plan a meal when I'm in the mood to cook which sometimes makes itself scarce. But I don't think I've seen anyone have a fridge and pantry that empty yet come up with a suprise dinner - are you sure she didn't have an arrangement with a friend or neighbor?! ;-)


  11. Great story! I wish someone would magically make dinner every night here...My kids won't have quite the same memory, as some nights I tell everyone it's "fend for yourself night!" My own Mom would cringe.

  12. Frogs, spiders, no bake cookies...I've heard them called by other names too. I think in my mom's cookies they were called Stove top cookies, or No or the other. But no matter what they're called everybody LOVES them! Mmmmmm I'm craving chocolate right now...!!

  13. Niki - we succumbed to the lure of DQ the other night!! Icecream is a staple!

  14. *chuckle* my mom once burned boiled eggs! and they've always got a fridge and freezer full to bursting but she'd rather eat out! Now just like her with the stockpiles to choose from, but I manage to find something to cook from them. well, most of the time! ;)

  15. This was just like our house....I still like raw potatoe and salt. I tried it on my kids once. You would have thought I tried to kill them. "It tastes like dirt!" Those old chocolate cookies are still a favorite here. Quick, easy and oh, so sweet.

  16. ahhhhhhhhh...memories of simpler times:)


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